DeSantis’ local press conference diverts to comments on China’s ‘draconian’ COVID policies

The governor also pushed back on the media and national media corporations

By: - November 29, 2022 2:05 pm

Gov. Ron DeSantis discusses China Zero-COVID policy at news conference in Jacksonville, Nov. 29, 2022. Credit: DeSantis Facebook.

What began as a news conference in Jacksonville about a multi-million railway project led to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ international comments on China, where protests have erupted over lockdowns, quarantines and other Zero-COVID policies that aim to eradicate the virus.

DeSantis, just reelected as governor this month but considered a top presidential pick in 2024, took time out Tuesday to discuss his concerns about what’s happening in China.

“This Zero-COVID policy is draconian. It violates people’s liberties and it is completely unscientific. And the people of China are right to be able to speak out and protest against what the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is doing,” DeSantis said.

“This CCP has a maniacal desire to exert total control over its population,” DeSantis added. “Zero-COVID is really just the pretext for them to do what they want to do anyways. And that is not a model that can work over the longterm.

“The people in China are finally speaking out against it. And I just think we need these draconian COVID policies to go to the ash heap of history where they belong.”

DeSantis has long been against lockdowns for schools and businesses, though he did close schools earlier in the pandemic.

Also Tuesday, DeSantis pushed back on the media, in part over the phrase, “Don’t Say Gay.”

Proponents say the law is designed to empower parents, providing a “fundamental right” to make decisions regarding the care and upbringing of a child or children in a public-school setting, according to a legislative analysis.

LGBTQ advocates have criticized the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, actually titled “Parental Rights in Education,” which prohibits discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in public classrooms in kindergarten through third grade and allows it only when age-appropriate among older kids.

The law has spawned lawsuits, but at least one was rejected in October, according to the News Service of Florida.

During the news conference, DeSantis said to the person who asked a question: “You are contributing to that by propagating false narratives. Don’t say Gay is a false narrative. And you know what…” — DeSantis stopped because the crowd began clapping.

“Well listen, listen. Here’s the thing. That was a false narrative. And the difference I think in Florida, is we fight back against that. We don’t let the media cow us into accepting that. We don’t play their game. We fight back against it. We told the truth to people. We told the truth to parents all throughout the state of Florida.

“And I know, particularly the national media corporations, I mean they tried to run with this. They were trying to smear the Legislature and all this other stuff?

“But you know what? The people here. They saw the facts and they responded and they supported us.”

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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